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Nov 17

S.W.O.R.D. #10 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

S.W.O.R.D. vol 2 #10
“Triple Threat”
by Al Ewing, Jacopo Camagni & Fernando Sifuentes

COVER / PAGE 1: Well, it’s a S.W.O.R.D. station exploding with Wiz Kid, Cable and Storm in the background.

PAGES 2-4.Wiz Kid starts his day.

Last issue ended with the revelation that Wiz Kid is Henry Gyrich’s man inside S.W.O.R.D.. He was sitting right in front of Abigail Brand when he was talking to Gyrich, though, so there was always a suggestion that it might be a bluff. Much of this issue is devoted to teasing the possibility that Wiz Kid might genuinely have turned on S.W.O.R.D., specifically because he sees no real difference between humans and mutants in terms of the way they treat him, in particular as regards his wheelchair use.

I don’t think Wiz Kid’s dyslexia has come up in quite some time, but it was indeed mentioned in his first appearance,X-Terminators #1.

Wiz Kid points out that the outer housing of his chair is designed in echo of the aesthetic of Professor X’s 90s hoverchair, but he seems to prefer using a smaller, inner chair in private. There’s a suggestion that the big hoverchair is for show, with its deliberate echo of X-Men iconography.

Page 4 addresses the obvious question of why Wiz Kid hasn’t either been healed by omega-level healers or put himself forward for resurrection. He uses a wheelchair after an injury in the accident that killed his parents, so in principle resurrection ought to work. Basically we’re asked to accept for present purposes that healing won’t work, and Wiz Kid is understandably not keen to get himself killed – though this is a fairly un-Krakoan attitude.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits. As in the previous two issues, the small print reads “Planet Arakko – death is here”.

PAGES 6-9.Storm, Frenzy and Cannonball defeat the new Lethal Legion.

Picking up the battle from last issue. The character that tells Half-Bot to play dead is Orbis Stellaris, the alien allied with Henry Gyrich, who was behind this attack (as we also saw last issue).

Xandra is adorably childlike here, celebrating Storm’s victory. She’s normally written a bit more mature than this, but I prefer this dynamic.

PAGE 10. Data page. A log of Abigail Brand’s movements, explaining where she’s gone – or at least, when she dropped off the record. “Kallark”, mentioned at the 0820 entry, is Gladiator from the Shi’ar Empire – presumably Abigail was liaising about the upcoming visit. The next four entries are all things we saw in the previous issue. The “Discussion with … Wiz-Kid” is presumably the scene with them together at the end of the issue, after which she vanished from the record – no doubt because the two of them are putting into operation their plan to triple-cross Gyrich.

PAGES 11-14.Wiz-Kid betrays Cable.

Wiz-Kid’s account of how Cable got his job – overpromotion as a teenager – is essentially what Abigail said last issue, in a data page with her thoughts on Cable. That data page also showed that Abigail had come up with the idea of using Cable’s techno-organic virus against him, which is presumably the scheme that Wiz-Kid puts into play in this scene.

A brief flashback shows young Cable being introduced to Wiz-Kid and (apparently) being visibly distracted by the chair. Wiz-Kid seems to be saying, though, that he could empathise with teen Cable feeling out of his depth in a position of responsibility for SHIELD, and hiding it behind a veneer of confidence.

Cable’s restoration to his traditional status quo took place at the end of the lastCable solo series.

I’m not quite sure why Wiz Kid’s powers make him a “living surveillance black spot”. Traditionally, Wiz-Kid’s powers are a psychic ability to assemble and reconfigure machinery, combined with a Forge-style intuition as to what to build. Hecould build something to stop surveillance, but he could also give it to pretty much anyone.

The “mission on Breakworld” that Cable mentions was part of the “Last Annihilation” crossover (involving the Guardians of the Galaxy and Dormammu). Specifically, it’s in the one-shotCable: Reloaded.

Obviously, Cable’s not an idiot and can’t be allowed to fall for this without qualification – but he gives Taki the benefit of the doubt just long enough to be taken out.

Wiz-Kid’s password is a reference to DMX’s “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” (number 6 in 2003).

PAGES 15-16. More Lethal Legions arrive.

The previous issue established that these guys are off-the-shelf weapons, so this is the logical next step.

PAGE 17. Data page – an extract from the Lethal Legion catalogue. The company name – Stellaris – is new, but presumably the company has something to do with Orbis Stellaris himself. Gyrich described it as “your enhancement tech” when talking to Orbis Stellaris last issue, but that could have just meant that he contributed it to the mission.

PAGES 18-19.The Peak blows up.

Despite the planet art, this is meant to be the Earth S.W.O.R.D. station blowing up (tying the group ever closer to Arakko going forward).

The Vanisher is part of S.W.O.R.D.’s teleport team, though we haven’t seen much of him. George, the unusually-shaped guy he’s shepherding through the gates is probably Gorgeous George, a minor villain from the David/StromanX-Factor run in the early 90s.

PAGES 20-22.Wiz Kid on the Alpha Flight space station.

Understandably, Gyrich is still suspicious of Wiz Kid’s plans. Wiz Kid gives an explanation of his motives that he says is what he thought Gyrich was expecting to hear. On the other hand, the first thing he says – that he doesn’t see humans and mutants as all that different – is also something that he said in his monologue in the first scene. The rest of his comment is to the effect that he doesn’t trust any project that brings in Apocalypse as a co-leader. While he clearly doesn’t really want to destroy Krakoa, it’s entirely possible that he wasn’t comfortable with Apocalypse’s involvement – it’s certainly not a position he contradicts with any of the pro-Krakoa comments that follow.

Broadly, Wiz Kid seems to align with Abigail Brand’s views, expressed throughout this series, that are far more interested in viewing Earth as a whole than in mutant exceptionalism. The two of them are in business for themselves here.

As Abigail points out, mutants didn’t invent Pym Particles – that part of Marvel Universe lore is the work of Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man.

PAGE 23. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: PLANETFALL.

Bring on the comments

  1. Ceries says:

    Taki’s statement here about Apocalypse takes on a distinctly personal tone when he notes Apocalypse’s slogan, “Survival of the Fittest.” Disabled people are never the “fittest” with people like that.

  2. Si says:

    I’m of two minds about them giving their Superman* copy the civilian name “Kallark”. It’s either hilariously clever or just plain on the nose. He’s not Deadpool, after all.

    *technically he’s a Superboy ripoff/homage, I know.

  3. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    The triple cross wasn’t exactly thrilling but at least we got some interesting stuff about Wiz Kid not being sold on Krakoa for very good reasons.

    The betrayal of Cable would have been a lot cooler if we had ever seen the friendship with Kid Cable.

  4. Chris says:

    Gladiator is technically an homage to Mon-El… not Superboy

  5. The Other Michael says:

    And of course Gladiator hails from the planet Strontia… which is a sideways reference to Strontium, referencing Krypton, both being elements on the periodic table. I’d say that Gladiator is meant more as a Superboy/man analog than a Mon-El one, given his power set and general position with the team.

    Really, I feel any Imperial Guard members who aren’t knock-offs/homages to characters from the Legion universe are missing the point.

    As mentioned in the comments last issue, the Lethal Legion are basically knock-offs of the Fatal Five.

    It’s obvious that Wiz Kid’s disability remains because no one wants to be the one to “cure” one of Marvel’s few disabled characters, and I don’t blame him for not wanting to die just to get a fix in. But it’s also telling that he still stands out in Krakoan society–is it his refusal to die and be improved, his reliance on technology even as they work towards biotech instead, or just good old-fashioned ableism?

    Still, really glad he’s the triple agent we all suspected.

  6. YLu says:

    Wiz Kid is presumably a surveillance black hole because he can use his powers to reconfigure any surveillance tech around him to not pick him up.

  7. Chris V says:

    Let’s not forget that Karma died but specifically wanted to be brought back with her prosthetic leg.

  8. Ceries says:

    I had figured most of Taki’s alienation is a result of ableism among mutants, who as this issue notes are closer than humans than they like to admit. Krakoa also has strong incentives for ableism-the Crucible ceremony can easily be interpreted as a way for disabled people to “earn their correct bodies,” there’s the belief in themselves as the future of humanity, the eugenics…in general, any supremacist state is likely to be an ableist one, as disabled people fail to fit the imagery of the master race and are turned upon. I could see the followers of Nightcrawler’s Spark accusing Taki of failing to respect the sacred people that is mutantkind by refusing to “fix” his body.

  9. Chris V says:

    The idea behind Crucible is that the X-gene is part of a mutant’s identity.
    That M-Day removed part of each individual mutant’s diversity from them.
    It is supposed to be read similar to an African-American man having their physical characteristics taken from them or a LGBTQ-person being made heterosexual.
    They are reclaiming their identity by agreeing to be reborn with their X-gene again.

    It’s not meant to be read in terms of eugenics.

  10. Si says:

    The thing about Wiz Kid is he’s always been isolated, it’s one of his core characteristics. I can’t remember what he did in Avengers Academy, but it was definitely the case in X-Terminators.

    Isolated characters in comics are rare, not counting fakers like Batman and Wovlerine. You wouldn’t want to lose that quality.

  11. MasterMahan says:

    The Crucible *isn’t* meant to be read in term of eugenics? The first one had Apocalypse, Mr. Survival of the Fittest himself, speechifying about how mutants are superior to humans while more moral characters react with discomfort. If Hickman wanted it read as reclaiming individuality without any eugenicist overtones, he did a terrible job conveying it.

  12. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I mean didn’t Dr. Nemesis outright say the Crucible is going to cause a more warlike, fit class of mutant because only those mutants comfortable being brutally murdered in a public gladiator fight will get their powers back and breed?

    Imagine how the Krakoan would react to a mutant who didn’t want their powers back?

    Or a mutant who is pissed to be dragged back to life in an egg some chubby kid laid?

    Actually… why do they refuse to tell any stories about the natural wrinkles of Krakoa?

  13. K says:

    It seems it shouldn’t be too hard to understand.

    Presumably Hickman planned on Krakoa’s faults being more insurmountable and leading to an inevitable fall. However, more readers than expected judged Krakoa as a place they would rather live on than not. Krakoa has become a successful power fantasy, just like all the most successful comics of the past.

    So, other writers have stepped in to write stories that compartmentalize Krakoa’s faults as something that can be fixed, and to show that the benefits outweigh the faults – like in this very issue.

  14. Rareblight says:

    Of course, representation of all groups in comics is important, but you have to ask this question to yourself when criticizing how disabled mutants are handled in comics: how many of the disabled people in real life would want to stay as themselves if the total recovery was an option?

  15. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I mean, there are plenty of deaf people who don’t want cochlear implants because they don’t see themselves as being disabled.

  16. Chris V says:

    Yes, K and Rareblight are both correct.

    You have to remember that Marvel got panicked over the idea of fixing Karmas leg, which she only lost a few years ago and which she lost due to an anti-mutant zealot, because they were afraid of the blowback from fans.
    Now, you expect that Marvel is going to portray Krakoa as a society based on eugenics who are prepared to euthanize Wiz Kid, if he doesnt conform to ableist rhetoric? (Its one thing to have Wiz Kid say that humans and mutants arent as different as the mutants now seem to believe.)
    Imagine the reaction to Marvel. Thats quite a fair remove from Karma wanting to be reborn with the leg she recently lost.

  17. Taibak says:

    Okay… so “Orbis Stellaris” sounds cool and all, but that is some SERIOUSLY bad Latin….

  18. Mark says:

    Yes, there’s resistance in the deaf community to medical “fixes” of deafness. But that’s partly because the community has spent more than a century building its own culture one that includes, importantly, its own language. (Magneto would approve, no doubt.)

    The potential threat to sign language by widespread adoption of implants sets deafness apart from a condition like the loss of limb use.

    That said, it makes far more sense for Whiz Kid to refuse the resurrection-and-repair option that Krakoa offers than it does Karma. It’s easy to envision him with an attitude similar to the character of Ng in “Snow Crash,” who’s built himself a tank-sized wheelchair and scolds anybody looking to pity him.

  19. Chris V says:

    I agree wholeheartedly, Mark.
    Wiz Kid and Karma are completely different characters.
    Karma is the equivalent of a person who lost a limb (or worse) during a war.
    I doubt you are going to find many veterans who were seriously injured during a war who take an attitude that it is a part of their identity and they would not want to return to how they were before the war.

    Yet, Marvel was too afraid of the reaction to see the situation in these terms.

  20. YLu says:

    I mean, there probably would be fewer people who want their limb back if the prosthetic replacement is some fully functional awesome cyborg limb thats stronger than an organic limb, as is what happens in superhero comics.

  21. K says:

    I think it’s simpler than that – it’s just that nobody could think of a story to tell *about* Karma getting her leg back. And if you just undo it without writing a story about that, that is what would trivialize the matter.

    Like, comics have trivialized Xavier being able to walk, and trivialized coming back from the dead. And those are all fine and good now but you really don’t want to add more things to that list.

  22. Aro says:

    Yeah, I agree with K here. I don’t think it’s so much that Marvel was afraid of the blow-back from healing Karma … they do things that make fans angry all the time.

    Rather, I think they’re trying to preserve the storytelling potential of the character. Flawed or damaged heroes are generally more interesting.

    Of course, it does put them in an awkward position of having the characters have to give an in-universe reason for not wanting to be ‘healed’.

  23. Chris V says:

    I dont think Karma losing her leg makes her any more of an interesting character.

    I remember Marvel releasing a message after the issue where Karma was resurrected with her prosthetic leg explaining that it was part of her identity and that she would never choose to be reborn with the leg with which she was born.
    The whole thing read quite hollow, considering the length of time she has had a prosthetic leg and how she lost her leg.
    It read as PR work on Marvels part for fear of bad publicity if Karma chose to be reborn with the leg she was born.

  24. Mark Coale says:

    Since I don’t remember, how much blowback was there to Barabara Gordon becoming Batgirl again? Did it just magically happen during New 52, where they could reset everything?

    I seem to recall a couple times in the old continuity when she chose to chose to stay as Oracle.

  25. Ben says:

    Is it so unbelievable that Takeshi simply likes his body the way it is? The best part about having multiple characters with the same background is that they can show different perspectives of that background. Professor X has historically been very uncomfortable with his disability, so it makes sense that he cures himself when he has the opportunity. But Takeshi has always been fine with his wheelchair. It works well with his powers, even!

    I’d argue for a similar perspective from Karma, even. She’s a disabled Asian lesbian mutant; I’m sure she’s thought often about her body and how people perceive it. Not to mention that she mentored another physically disabled mutant (Face) and generally seems to put herself in a Representation role for younger mutants in all her identities. It makes sense that she would choose to keep her cool prosthetic leg.

    If Marvel would let its disabled characters talk and think more about their disabilities, there would be so many interesting things to discuss. But instead we’re left with these off-panel reassurances that there is no ableism on Krakoa, which reads a little suspiciously considering, well, everything you all mentioned.

    That’s why I’m glad this issue exists. It’s good to know someone in the writers’ room is actually thinking about the same stuff readers are questioning.

  26. Luis Dantas says:

    Karma is perhaps a more extreme case than most. She spent at least a few months grotesquely deformed by Shadow King-induced morbid obesity while _also_ being psychically and physically abused by his mind control and corruption.

    While also being in constant mental struggle with her murderous brother, no less.

    I don’t know that it has ever been said in so many words, but it would be easy to present her as a traumatized survivor with identity issues. She may not feel willing to question her limitations and personal boundaries without a very clear reason.

  27. Taibak says:

    Mark Coale: Quite a bit. Gail Simeone, with DC’s blessing, was able to get out in front of it and explain why they chose to tell that story. That pretty much defused the situation, if I remember right.

  28. Evilgus says:

    Re: WizKid and Brand being sceptical of the Krakoan project

    It’s great seeing this on the page, as we’ve all questioned just why so many X-Men heroes have unquestioningly gone along with it.

    I’d quite like an ultimate denouement where more minor characters or villains who have sussed out that something is rotten in the heart of Krakoa, take on the X-Men as the ‘baddies’. It would be a nice inversion of perspectives, and be a suitable climax for all this great character work with say WizKid, Greycrow, Polaris (maybe before she joined the core team…) and others.

  29. Chris V says:

    Ben-Im not sure if your response was directed at me, at all.
    If so, I am drawing a line between Wiz Kid and Karma.
    They have very different characters under very different circumstances.

    It seems to me that Marvel would force Karma to remain obese after the Shadow King story of it were written today, for fear of getting blowback for fat shaming.
    I am all for body-positivity, but Karma was basically raped by the Shadow King to end up that way.

    -

    Also, thinking about it and what Luis wrote, Karma has become another character like Colossus.
    She certainly doesnt need loss of a limb added to her part as a damaged hero. Poor Karma.
    As of being a refugee from the Vietnam War wasnt enough, they just pile more and more on top of her.

  30. Ben says:

    I didnt mean to single you out; I was addressing the general question of why she would want to be resurrected with her leg as is.

  31. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    You know I had totally forgotten they brought Karma’s evil brother back.

    He hasn’t even appeared in a book has he?

    What was the point?

  32. Josie says:

    “I think its simpler than that its just that nobody could think of a story to tell *about* Karma getting her leg back. And if you just undo it without writing a story about that, that is what would trivialize the matter. Like, comics have trivialized Xavier being able to walk, and trivialized coming back from the dead.”

    I don’t know if “trivialize” is the best word here. You can have things happen off panel and just not draw attention to them, BECAUSE you don’t have a story to tell about them, but rather a story to tell about the character who already underwent those changes.

    Is it “trivializing” not to tell a story about a life-changing event? I guess you can make that argument, but I think it has more to do with the way in which a writer sidesteps telling those stories. I’m reminded of One Year Later, after Infinite Crisis. Most of those characters had gone through (at least allegedly) life-changing events. Skipping over the details was a core concept of telling the OYL stories and maintaining the mystery about what had happened.

  33. MasterMahan says:

    As far as I can tell, the only point of bringing Karma’s evil brother back was as an excuse to get Karma and Dani into a Crucible. One downside to the Krakoa setup is that fight scenes need a bit more contrivance.

    But events should also have consequences, and Karma’s rebirth has inexplicably had none.

  34. neutrino says:

    It looks like Orchis is devolving into the standard dumb anti-mutant organization that I was afraid it would when Hickman leaves. What is the point of attacking the Shiar or destroying the Peak?

  35. Daibhid C says:

    @Other Michael: And of course Gladiator hails from the planet Strontia which is a sideways reference to Strontium, referencing Krypton, both being elements on the periodic table.

    It’s even better than that; Strontium is both radioactive, and mostly found in the form of a fluorescent compound called … Strontianite.

  36. About Karma:

    How long before she and her family are retconned into being from Siancong rather than Vietnam, because of character-aging editorial policies?

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